Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2014

Review of The St Giles Quarter Ghost Walk and The Haunted Theatre Experience from Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

I am, I need to make immediately clear, a ghost-sceptic. While I may occasionally watch a spooky movie and have watched an episode (just the absolute one) of Most Haunted, I have never truly bought into the whole spectre phenomenon.

Therefore Looking Glass were in for a challenge from the outset, and for the most part they didn't swing my opinion of ghosts and ghoulies during the hour tour/show. Having said that, I did enjoy it in a much different way. Much like the Behind The Curtain tour at Royal & Derngate (review here) earlier in the year, it was fascinating to see behind the scenes at the Northampton Guildhall. Although I have been in the old court hall before, I have never had the chance to see the old cells and the tunnels beneath (now kitted out with the pipes for the heating system as well making them actually rather warm). It was a rare opportunity to see beneath the bowels of the historic and splendid building and learn a few things that I wasn't aware of (inclu…

Review of This Is My Family by Tim Firth at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

It is very safe to say that I nearly didn't see This Is My Family. At first glance it wasn't something that appealed to me, a story of a family which sounded like a sitcom made into a musical. Well I wasn't sure. Yes I watched the early years of My Family and for those slightly older 2point4 Children and I wasn't entirely sure whether I desired watching something similar where, heaven forbid, they then broke into song. However my endless need to watch something because its there, coupled with the fact that it was in the wonderful Royal drove me there last evening. I am so, so glad that I did as it turned out to be one of my favourite plays I have seen this year (this was my 56th to give that some context!).

Telling the story of 13 year old Nicky (Evelyn Hoskins) and her tales/woes of her family and her winning of a family holiday for describing said family is the simple grounding for the play. As a chain reaction to that slight story the play weaves a stunning happy/sa…

Review of Sell-By-Date by Marbleglass Theatre at Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

Having successfully avoided death in the preceding 159 days since I last had the pleasure of seeing Marbleglass Theatre's Sell-By-Date. I settled once again with my plastic cup, straw and sweet (you had to be there), to watch this dark, funny and emotional little show.

Watching again it was easy to see why this was the pick of the 2014 Flash Festival, in my top three with The Show Must Go On and Taciturn. A careful balance between humour and emotional impact, this is a fine piece of original work with winning performances.

The star is and was originally Joseph Derrington and had the biggest impact on first viewing. However on second sight, it became more the sum of its parts. Derrington had the best remembered scenes, be it from the classic and still tremendously rude stand-up routine through to the title song (which I enjoyed much more the second time), all of which on one view could send you home thinking that he was the star. However second time around is the charm for the othe…

Review of Becket performed by The Masque Theatre at the Guildhall (Great Hall), Northampton

Becket was the fourth play by the Masque Theatre that I have seen and sadly it left me the most disappointed. However not because of anything that the excellent company and organisers did. All the disappointment came from the venue.

The Great Hall in Northampton Guildhall is a most glorious room, stunning height, wonderful decoration. An absolute delight. Well until you sit down and watch a play in it that is. The absolute worst acoustics that I have yet witnessed with so much of the dialogue unheard. And that is with just standard level speech, you can absolute forget it when the characters raise their voices, as that first word reverberates seemingly forever.

I write all of the above with great sadness as what I did follow from this play was excellent and the two leads are both excellent. Tristan Smith especially as King Henry II brings an alarmingly playful approach to the monarch, a twinkle in the eye. Knowing nothing of the play other than the history it portrays (a lot of it ver…

Review of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THE PUBLIC REVIEWS
First performed in 1955, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and prestigious winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is widely regarded as Tennessee Williams’ finest play. Indeed by many one of the best of the twentieth century.
Telling the story of the strife of a Mississippi family including husband Brick (Charles Aitken) and  his wife Maggie (Mariah Gale). Set during a party (in a bedroom!) to celebrate Big Daddy’s 65thbirthday, family riffs, sickness and hidden desires bring the dynasty to a head on one alcohol fuelled evening where all emotions are laid bare.
The play clearly fails to try to win its audience over with the first fifteen minutes or so, as introduced to the characters of Brick and Maggie in their stifling (not just for them) bedroom we are treated to, what is in effect a one person conversation. The maudlin Maggie rarely provides any humour during her one way conversation with her unloving husband Brick ‘Did you say something…

Review of Fun Palaces at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the best part of eight hours floating suspiciously and observing around the Royal & Derngate experiencing the very first Fun Palaces event. Born from a sadly failed thought of Joan Littlewood in 1961, Fun Palaces is a dynamic, pop up extravaganza of theatre, dance, music, face painting, singing, dressing up and the erecting of tents (12 at Royal & Derngate). Through this inventive collection the theatre was filled with the absolute total of demographics. Bustling with activity, everyone who attended was able to find something to amuse themselves.

I myself rather boringly refrained from climbing into tents, putting on silly hats and having his face painted. Mores the pity. I was generally there for the theatre performances and a little added dance one for good measure. Five of which I saw during my stay.

The first was appropriately entitled One, a short half hour or so of five little plays that had been written by members of the public t…